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Women dominate best director category in Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations

“Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” the teen abortion drama, tops the list with seven nominations.

Sidney Flanigan is shown in a scene from “Never Rarely Sometimes Always.” The film was nominated for seven Independent Film Spirit Awards including one for best feature.
Sidney Flanigan is shown in a scene from “Never Rarely Sometimes Always.” The film was nominated for seven Independent Film Spirit Awards including one for best feature.
AP

NEW YORK — The teen abortion drama “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” landed a leading seven nominations, Chadwick Boseman was posthumously nominated and women dominated the best director category in the Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations announced Tuesday.

The 36th annual Spirit Awards, like most awards shows during the pandemic, are adjusting to the difficult circumstances. Tuesday’s nominees were announced virtually, with taped messages from Olivia Wilde, Laverne Cox and Barry Jenkins — who was joined by his dog, Chauncey Wang-Jenkins. The awards, usually held in a massive tent on the Santa Monica, California, beach the day before the Oscars, have been postponed to a primetime broadcast on IFC on April 22, three days before the Academy Awards.

Michael Potts (from left), Chadwick Boseman and Colman Domingo star in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” The film was nominated for best feature by the Independent Film Spirit Awards. Boseman, who died on Aug. 28, 2020, was also nominated for best male lead. 
Michael Potts (from left), Chadwick Boseman and Colman Domingo star in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” The film was nominated for best feature by the Independent Film Spirit Awards. Boseman, who died on Aug. 28, 2020, was also nominated for best male lead.
AP

“2020 was obviously hell on earth but one glorious lifeline these past few months has been the ability to watch so many great films and shows,” said Josh Welsh, president of Film Independent, in the presentation streamed on YouTube.

Eliza Hittman’s “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” a Pennsylvania’s teen’s odyssey in getting an abortion, racked up nominations for best feature film, best director and best female lead for Sidney Flanigan. It was followed closely by Lee Isaac Chung’s Korean immigrant family drama “Minari,” with six nominations including best feature film, best director, best male lead for Steven Yeun and supporting nods for Yeri Han and Yuh-jung Youn. Chloe Zhoe’s “Nomadland,” starring Frances McDormand, scored five nods, including best feature, best director and best female lead for McDormand.

The other nominees for best feature were Kelly Reichardt’s “First Cow” (also up for best director and best supporting male for Orion Lee) and George C. Wolfe’s August Wilson adaptation “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Viola Davis and Boseman, the two stars of “Ma Rainey,” were also nominated, as was Glynn Turman.

Those five films have been regularly celebrated in a pandemic-marred awards season that has accelerated lately with the American Film Institute’s picks for the best 10 films of 2020, and the National Board Review nominations, also announced Tuesday. “Nomadland” took top honors at the Gotham Awards earlier this month.

Steven Yeun (foreground) is shown in a scene from “Minari.” The film was nominated for best feature by the Independent Film Spirit Awards. Yeun was also nominated for best actor and Lee Isaac Chung received a nomination for best director.
Steven Yeun (foreground) is shown in a scene from “Minari.” The film was nominated for best feature by the Independent Film Spirit Awards. Yeun was also nominated for best actor and Lee Isaac Chung received a nomination for best director.
AP

At the Spirits, the preeminent indie film soiree, nominees are limited to films made for less than $22.5 million. Last year, Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell” won best feature, while Adam Sandler (“Uncut Gems”) and Renee Zellweger (“Judy”) took the top acting awards. This year, Netflix led all studios with 16 nominations.

Four out of five nominees for directing were women: Reichardt, Zhao, Hittman and Emerald Fennell, for “Promising Young Woman.” Overall, 42% of nominees were women and 37% were people of color.

Carey Mulligan, star of Fennell’s revenge drama, was among the nominees for best female lead, along with Davis, Flanigan, McDormand and Nicole Beharie (“Juneteenth”). In the best male lead category, Yeun and Boseman were joined by Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”), Adarsh Gourav (“White Tiger”) and Rob Morgan (“Bull”).

The Spirits’ Robert Altman Award, an honor for a film’s ensemble, will go to Regina King’s feature film directorial debut “One Night in Miami...,” a fictional account of a 1960s meeting of Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown.

The nominees for best documentary are: “Collective,” “Crip Camp,” “Dick Johnson Is Dead,” “Time” and “The Mole Agent.” Up for best international film are: “Bacurau,” “The Disciple,” “Night of the Kings,” “Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time” and “Quo Vadis, Aida?”

Also on Tuesday, the National Board of Review gave a boost to Spike Lee’s Vietnam War drama “Da 5 Bloods,” naming it best film along with awards for directing and best ensemble. Other picks by the long-running organization of film enthusiasts, which normally holds a flashy gala for winners in New York, also included “Soul” for best animated film, “Time” for best documentary and acting awards for Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”) and Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”).

This image released by Focus Features shows Carey Mulligan in a scene from the film “Promising Young Woman.” Mulligan was nominated for best lead actress by the Independent Film Spirit Awards for her role in the film.
Carey Mulligan stars in “Promising Young Woman.” Mulligan was nominated for best lead actress by the Independent Film Spirit Awards for her role in the film.
AP